Looking distinctly summery
ok, despite record highs for March, this wasn't actually Scotland
At the end of February I stowed away the turbo and had the amazing opportunity to go spend 2 weeks cycling abroad. The first trip was to Fuertaventura, revelling in the smooth tarmac and being spoiled by the 50m pool in the sunshine. Reluctantly doing a 3km run TT but then getting to relax in sight of the beach and go for drinks and dinners with the tri club. This trip was about getting the miles in and I racked up 330 over 6 days, which has definitely made me feel stronger this year. Although I've done plenty of 100 mile cycles in the past, the powerful Fuertaventura wind really changes things. It's hard to feel you're getting anywhere when your speedo is saying 7mph on the flat! No massive hills on the island yet somehow we clocked up over 3000m of ascent over those miles. I think the 100miler goes down as one of my toughest cycles yet.
Next, I swapped the skinny tyres for my trail bike and flew out to Portugal to join the AQR coaching camp. In one short week I learnt more about bike and body mechanics than I even knew there was to learn. I've come back feeling super-motivated and much in love with my bicycle collection. Hopefully a bit of a better rider too, after a great week riding in the sunshine with a lovely group of people.
Never one to waste the moment, I flew straight back to enter a road race the next day. Perhaps not the wisest idea but somehow it all worked out for me. As one of the few women-only road events in Scotland I felt it was important to turn up and support it. You can read my race report here, it was really inspiring to see women of all abilities and speeds turning up, rather than just experienced racers. I wish there were more events like this - I think it really changes the atmosphere to have at a bunch of women in the race rather than being just one or two token chicks in a group of men. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do a few more road races this year, even though my heart is still with mountain biking really.
So why then have I entered this crazy long triathlon? Sometimes I wonder at myself. Mostly I just want to ride my bike but something about the adventure just dragged me right in. Can I really swim THAT far? Will I be able to stand up straight after a 125mile cycle never mind run a marathon?
I answered the cycling question last weekend, when I ventured further North in Scotland than ever before. Neil and Ally were climbing and we camped in the woods near Staic Pollaidh. At 6.45am I left the tent with the sunrise. Riding North to Scourie and back through the heart of the Highlands, I barely saw another person. I had to hold myself back from taking the left turn signposted to Cape Wrath. That adventure will have to wait for another day. Some deer, a few cars but mostly just the stunning scenery. No need for a map when there's so few roads.
130miles and 10hrs later, I was back at the tent. Could I run a marathon after that? Well, I think just maybe I could. I'd stopped every 1.5hr to stretch my back, admire the view or put on another layer and I actually didn't feel too bad. But there's the problem. I wont have that sort of luxury in the race. Come race day, if I'm going to make the run cut-off I'll have to ride 125miles in 8hr. No rests and a bit faster. It's a big ask.
The plan for the next 12 weeks is to get faster. Sounds simple.